Artrell Hawkins Sr., one of the all-time best high school players in Johnstown, Pennsylvania and a three-year letterman at the University of Pittsburgh, died on Thursday at the age of 63.
The sad news was related to the Johnstown Democrat by one of his sons, Artrell Hawkins Jr., who spent nine years in the NFL as a defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. Hawkins Jr. told the Democrat that his father died of natural causes and had been battling health issues for the past several years.
Artrell Hawkins Sr.’s High School Career
Artrell Hawkins Sr. was a standout running back at Greater Johnstown High School between 1973-75, rushing for 3,552 career yards and scoring 234 points. He held the high school’s rushing and scoring records until the early 2000s, when they were broken by LaRod Stephens-Howling, who went on to play running back for the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers between 2009 and 2013.
Hawkins Sr. played one season of junior college football before lettering at the University of Pittsburgh. He went on to sign a free agent contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers and tried to make a position switch to wide receiver at the professional level, a daunting task at a time when the Steelers employed future Hall of Fame receivers like Lynn Swann and John Stallworth. He never appeared in a game with the Steelers.
Yet his connections to the NFL are sprawling. In addition to Hawkins Jr.—who was a second-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1998—his son Andrew Hawkins, a wide receiver, played six seasons in the NFL, splitting his time between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns and catching 209 passes with nine touchdowns in 74 games.
He also has a grandson, Aeneas Hawkins, who is a defensive tackle at Penn State.
Artrell Hawkins Jr. and Andrew Hawkins Are Cousins of Carlton Haselrig
According to the Tribune Democrat, Artrell Hawkins Jr. and Andrew Hawkins are cousins of the late Carlton Haselrig, the All-Pro Pittsburgh Steelers guard who passed away in July at the age of 54.
Hawkins Jr. says that his dad inspired a lot of football players in the Pittsburgh area, including the aforementioned Haselrig. He also credits his dad’s good name for helping him get recruited to play college football, telling the Tribune Democrat, “The reason I got recruited was because one of his Pitt linemen was a coach at the University of Cincinnati. They called me because they recognized his name,” he said.
Meanwhile, Artrell Hawkins Jr.’s younger brother Avery played at Division II California University of Pennsylvania, where the son of former Steelers first-round pick Jamain Stephens played football before passing away earlier this month.
“All of his sons were great football players,” Artrell Jr. said. “It’s what we do. I can’t say I’m the one that started it. I didn’t…. It started because of him. We call it and family business. He [was] the founder.”
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